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Clement of Alexandria - Book VII

Chapter XIII.—Description of the Gnostic Continued.

Chapter XIII.--Description of the Gnostic Continued.

He never remembers those who have sinned against him, but forgives them. Wherefore also he righteously prays, saying, "Forgive us; for we also forgive." [3637] For this also is one of the things which God wishes, to covet nothing, to hate no one. For all men are the work of one will. And is it not the Saviour, who wishes the Gnostic to be perfect as "the heavenly Father," [3638] that is, Himself, who says, "Come, ye children, hear from me the fear of the Lord?" [3639] He wishes him no longer to stand in need of help by angels, but to receive it from Himself, having become worthy, and to have protection from Himself by obedience.

Such an one demands from the Lord, and does not merely ask. And in the case of his brethren in want, the Gnostic will not ask himself for abundance of wealth to bestow, but will pray that the supply of what they need may be furnished to them. For so the Gnostic gives his prayer to those who are in need, and by his prayer they are supplied, without his knowledge, and without vanity.

Penury and disease, and such trials, are often sent for admonition, for the correction of the past, and for care for the future. Such an one prays for relief from them, in virtue of possessing the prerogative of knowledge, not out of vainglory; but from the very fact of his being a Gnostic, he works beneficence, having become the instrument of the goodness of God.

They say in the traditions [3640] that Matthew the apostle constantly said, that "if the neighbour of an elect man sin, the elect man has sinned. For had he conducted himself as the Word prescribes, his neighbour also would have been filled with such reverence for the life he led as not to sin."

What, then, shall we say of the Gnostic himself? "Know ye not," says the apostle, "that ye are the temple of God?" [3641] The Gnostic is consequently divine, and already holy, God-bearing, and God-borne. Now the Scripture, showing that sinning is foreign to him, sells those who have fallen away to strangers, saying, "Look not on a strange woman, to lust," [3642] plainly pronounces sin foreign and contrary to the nature of the temple of God. Now the temple is great, as the Church, and it is small, as the man who preserves the seed of Abraham. He, therefore, who has God resting in him will not desire aught else. At once leaving all hindrances, and despising all matter which distracts him, he cleaves the heaven by knowledge. And passing through the spiritual Essences, and all rule and authority, he touches the highest thrones, hasting to that alone for the sake of which alone he knew.

Mixing, then, "the serpent with the dove," [3643] he lives at once perfectly and with a good conscience, mingling faith with hope, in order to the expectation of the future. For he is conscious of the boon he has received, having become worthy of obtaining it; and is translated from slavery to adoption, as the consequence of knowledge; knowing God, or rather known of Him, for the end, he puts forth energies corresponding to the worth of grace. For works follow knowledge, as the shadow the body.

Rightly, then, he is not disturbed by anything which happens; nor does he suspect those things, which, through divine arrangement, take place for good. Nor is he ashamed to die, having a good conscience, and being fit to be seen by the Powers. Cleansed, so to speak, from all the stains of the soul, he knows right well that it will be better with him after his departure.

Whence he never prefers pleasure and profit to the divine arrangement, since he trains himself by the commands, that in all things he may be well pleasing to the Lord, and praiseworthy in the sight of the world, since all things depend on the one Sovereign God. The Son of God, it is said, came to His own, and His own received Him not. Wherefore also in the use of the things of the world he not only gives thanks and praises the creation, but also, while using them as is right, is praised; since the end he has in view terminates in contemplation by gnostic activity in accordance with the commandments.

Thence now, by knowledge collecting materials to be the food of contemplation, having embraced nobly the magnitude of knowledge, he advances to the holy recompense of translation hence. For he has heard the Psalm which says: "Encircle Zion, and encompass it, tell upon its towers." [3644] For it intimates, I think, those who have sublimely embraced the Word, so as to become lofty towers, and to stand firmly in faith and knowledge.

Let these statements concerning the Gnostic, containing the germs of the matter in as brief terms as possible, be made to the Greeks. But let it be known that if the [mere] believer do rightly one or a second of these things, yet he will not do so in all nor with the highest knowledge, like the Gnostic.